That's a controversial post headline and I don't mean that social will always beat search, but there's a rising chorus out there about "content farms" and search optimized content creation that is worth touching on.
Arrington started it when he posted about "the end of hand crafted content". Richard MacManus penned a similar post the same day called "Content Farms: Why Media, Blogs, and Google should be worried". And over the weekend, Paul Kedrosky addressed the issue of search spam in his quest to find the perfect dishwasher.
When a web service like Google (GOOG) controls a huge amount of web traffic (>50% for many sites), it's going to get spammed up. Google has thousands of employees working to combat that spam. And it is doing the best it can. But it is hard to beat spammers. The best you can do most of the time is tread water.
What's worse, and what Mike and Richard are talking about, is the act of search engine driven content creation. These so called "content farms" look for the top search terms and create content especially for them. Arrington compared this content to fast food; cheap, easy, and ultimately unhealthy.
I left this comment at the end of a very long comment thread on Arrington's post:
social tools will allow us to decide what is crap and what is not. our social graphs will help us. search engines won’t. it’s a lot harder to spam yourself into a social graph.
The Internet is a massive content creation machine. We are witnessing an explosion in the amount of content getting created every day. Most of it is garbage. But some of it is not. Machines can help us find what is good. But with the help of machines, our friends and trusted sources can and will do that even better.